"This summer internship was more valuable than my average college class... I was also very thankful to feel so welcomed by everyone else." -Kimberly Garcia, Cornell University student
Before applying for the internship, I just had finished up my sophomore year of college. Because of the pandemic, I had lost my original internship offer so I was scurrying to find another.
That is when I came across CNI. CNI's mission and vision aligned with how I saw and wanted to tackle climate change so I believed it would have been a good opportunity to learn through CNI - especially given that it focused on more than just the STEM related side of sustainability (since that is where most of my experience comes from and I wanted to expand my horizons given that sustainability is such an interdisciplinary subject).
My main hesitation was that it was not a paid internship. I come from a low-income family who frankly cannot afford an unpaid internship. In addition, the fact that I would be one of the new interns amongst the original 12 interns and that I was not even from Indiana.
After being accepted, I felt excited. I was excited to get to learn more about how green non-profits worked and how I could apply my more STEM-related skillset to the policy and research side of it all. I was also very thankful to feel so welcomed by everyone else. It was nice to see people every day and work on things I am passionate about, especially giving the circumstances we are all currently in right now.
I feel as though I gained a better understanding of how non-profits specifically can help the movement. What and what cannot be done with simply volunteers rather than funds. How effective and vital marketing, design, outreach, education, and communication are for a non-profit to help make progress in combatting climate change.
This internship helped me piece together the array of disciplines (economics, humanities, art, hard sciences, etc) I have learned throughout my life and make them not only make sense (in terms of how they relate to climate action), but also work towards creating this idea of sustainability.
I also made some really great friends that I can share memes with and talk about the many interconnected issues and solutions toward sustainability! Also, learning the logistics of non-profits was very useful as I hope to work in more of them in the future.
What I liked best was how genuinely passionate the interns were about sustainability/climate change. It made the atmosphere of the internship not only more inviting but also more productive.
This summer internship was more valuable than my average college class. Although both taught me many new things and honed my previous skills, I do think the more interactive aspects the internship offered is what ultimately made it more valuable. Since everything we were doing there was meant to create real impact for real people, it felt like there was more of this drive to do everything to your best ability to make real, positive change in the world. For me personally, I think I just learn better and grow more when I am more engaged and present with the work I am doing rather than just learning a bit of material to pass a class that I will ultimately forget most of.
I also definitely think the people who were part of this internship also made a big difference because most of my college classes have a good amount of people that did not actually want to be there. But it felt as though everyone in the internship wanted to be there because we all shared the same passions - which I ultimately think helps any opportunity become more valuable.
I'd recommend this program to others. As long as CNI keeps trying to grow, it is a great learning opportunity that can continue to make a positive impact on this world. With that said, I would probably recommend this to any high school student who is also interested in sustainability and climate change. Considering that CNI is still so new, unpaid, and growing as it goes, I think this is a great opportunity for high schoolers to get a good glimpse of the many disciplines sustainability includes without having to sacrifice too much financially (considering most high schoolers are not too worried about getting an income at that age - but always eager to learn and build up their resume!).
Who would I not recommend this program to? People that are not passionate about sustainability and that are not kind. Aside from that, I think so long as you have a passion for the mission/vision and work well in a team, CNI is a great fit. Passion can definitely go a long way. Even if someone might not be able to dedicate a whole lot of time, money, or best-of-the-best skills, if that person has passion, they will also have the drive to learn, improve, and ultimately, benefit CNI in the long run (and even in the short if their passion is that strong!).
I know "true leaders give." These are the main ways I gave to the group:
1) Honesty - Throughout the program, I always made sure to be as transparent with everyone so we could all build better bonds with one another, and therefore, thrive off of trust.
2) Empathy - I tried my best to be empathetic to others' concerns as well as good moments to help them out when in need and also support them in the best way possible.
3) Inclusivity - I also believed I made sure I was inclusive so everyone felt rightfully empowered by one another so that we could all thrive in this program.
Contact Kimberly on LinkedIn.